Commanding the Room in Short Skirts: Cheering as the Embodiment of Ideal Girlhood

Author(s): Adams, Natalie; Bettis, Pamela

About this Entry
Abstract More than 3.5 million people participate in cheerleading in the United States, with 97 percent being female. A staple of American schools, American life, and popular culture, the cheerleader however, has received scant attention in scholarly research. In this article, the authors argue that a feminist poststructuralist reading of cheerleading situates cheerleading as a discursive practice that has changed significantly in the past 150 years to accommodate the shifting and often contradictory meanings of normative femininity. They maintain that the ideal girl of the new millennium embodies both masculinity and femininity and that cheerleading offers a culturally sanctioned space for some girls to embody ideal girlhood. They argue that cheerleading is a gendered activity representing in some ways a liberatory shift in reconstituting normative femininity while simultaneously perpetuating a norm of femininity that does not threaten dominant social values and expectations about the role of girls and women in society.
Publication Title Gender and Society
Publisher Sage Publications
Publication Date 02/2003
URIs http://www.jstor.org/stable/3081815
http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcAuth=SerialsSolutions&SrcApp=Summon&KeyUT=000180497500005&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=WOS
http://search.proquest.com/docview/215741007
Keywords Americans
Body
Body image
Cheerleaders
Cheerleading
Criticism and interpretation
Cultural Values
Cultural studies
Cultural values
Culture
Evaluation
FEMININITY
Females
Femininity
Feminism
Gender
Gender identity
Gender roles
Gender studies
Girlhood
Girls
Human body
Masculinity
Norms
Participation
Physiological aspects
Popular Culture
Popular culture
Psychological aspects
SOCIOLOGY
Social aspects
Sociology
Sports
Sports Participation
U.S.A
USA
United States of America
WOMEN'S STUDIES
Women
article
body
cheerleading
feminism
gender
girlhood
View Raw JSON